‘The People Are What Make Boston So Special’
After nearly two decades at SPH, Josée Dupuis, chair and professor of biostatistics, is stepping down from her roles at the end of May. Ahead of her departure, she shared what she has learned throughout her time at the school, and what she will miss the most.
Later this month, Josée Dupuis, chair and professor of biostatistics, will step down from her role at the School of Public Health. She will be moving closer to her family in Canada and taking her expertise to McGill University, where she has been appointed chair of the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health at the School of Population and Global Health.
After joining SPH in 2003, Dupuis became the interim chair of the Department of Biostatistics in 2015 and was officially appointed chair in 2017. Throughout her time at the school, she has made significant contributions to both the life of SPH and the field of biostatistics.
Much of her research centers around the development and application of methods for genetic studies, gene by environment interaction investigation, genetic meta-analysis, and rare variant analysis. Her work has led her to develop novel statistical approaches to analyzing genetic data collected on large families. She is also a long-time investigator on the Framingham Heart Study, where she has worked on projects to identify genes that help shape diabetes-related traits, atrial fibrillation, and pulmonary function.
Over the course of her distinguished career, Dupuis has mentored a number of students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty trainees on both research projects and in career development. She has given more than 60 invited lectures and presentations and published more than 260 peer-reviewed articles.
Dupuis has been formally recognized for her many achievements, most recently receiving the 2020 American Society of Human Genetics Mentorship Award, the 2019 International Genetic Epidemiology Leadership Award, and the 2015 SPH Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship.
Ahead of her departure from SPH, Dupuis shared more about her experience at the school, what she has learned throughout her time here, and what she will miss the most.
with Josée Dupuis
What are you the proudest of during your time at SPH?
I am proud of the outstanding faculty we have been able to retain and recruit during my seven years as chair of the Department of Biostatistics. Their research interests are varied in terms of statistical expertise, from causal inference and spatial statistics to machine learning, and their areas of applications range from infectious diseases, genetics, and genomics to imaging analysis, amongst others. The new recruits have outstanding research portfolios and have greatly expanded the expertise in the department. Some of them have also already received teaching awards for their work in the classroom, and have excelled at mentoring students. While the Department of Biostatistics has always been first-rate, these new recruits are ensuring it continues to be cutting-edge for years to come.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
While I enjoy teaching and research tremendously, the mentoring aspect of the chair position has been the most rewarding part of my work. To hire people with great potential, ensure they have all the resources needed to succeed, and then watch them excel at their work has been a great perk of my time at SPH.
What lessons did you learn throughout your time at SPH that you hope to carry with you into your next role at McGill?
In my leadership role, I have learned to make data-informed decisions. More than ever, I now listen carefully and gather information before proposing a solution to a particular problem. Sometimes, how to solve a problem seems obvious. However, solving one problem may not be addressing the root cause of the issue. By not being so quick at offering solutions, and gathering more information about the cause of the problem, you can achieve a much better outcome. I have learned not to be so reactive, to be more patient, and more systematic in my approach to challenges. I hope these skills will continue to serve me well.
What will you miss most about Boston?
The people. My BU friends and colleagues. My Boston collaborators. My daughter, a current rising junior at BU. Friendly faces in my neighborhood. The people are what make Boston so special.